Most of us would remember paying our school or college fees as a painful exercise—standing in a long queue, going through disproportionate paperwork and, not to forget, keeping tabs on the due date. For people on the other side of the counter, i.e., the school or college administration, the process is no less taxing since it involves keeping records of all transactions, receipts, reports and what have you.
The government’s demonetisation move last November, which led to a cash crunch in the economy, made fee payment a particularly acute problem for parents, students as well as educational institutes. Seizing the opportunity, three young enterprising individuals came together to build OnFees.com, a startup that aims to simplify the whole rigmarole.
Run by EasyTech Innovations Pvt. Ltd, OnFees was founded by Manisha Thakur, a marketing professional with over five years of experience in digital marketing; Mayur Jain, a former chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers and founder of an ed-tech startup, ChalkTalk; and Viral Dedhiya, founder of Infinitech Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a startup in the education enterprise resource planning (ERP) space.
OnFees sorts out the fee collection process for schools, colleges and coaching classes. Institutes can register themselves on the platform and link their bank accounts to receive all payments on a single system. The startup claims that its platform allows institutes to collect fees in less than two days. The firm’s system can operate over and above an institute’s existing processes such as ERP or Tally.
While cash crunch is one of the pain points the startup is looking to address, another problem it is solving is the hefty outflow in the form of fees that families with several children are faced with. “For a parent who has [many] children going to multiple learning centres like schools, colleges and classes, there are multiple fees to be paid [which] accounts to a significant amount,” Thakur explains.
For such parents, OnFees provides a unique education loan facility that allows them to pay off multiple institutes. “The traditional process of education loans was tedious, and not catering to such cases,” she adds. The firm has partnered with education loan companies such as HDFC Credila and InCred to offer loans to parents.
OnFees has raised Rs 2.5 crore from a team led by Hiren Gogri, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and IT industry veteran. The startup will use the funds to ramp up its sales and marketing efforts.
Business model, challenges and growth
The Mumbai-based startup currently has 35 institutes on its platform, and over 70,000 students have registered on the site. The platform has apps for both Android and iOS. OnFees charges a convenience fee to students for each transaction and an integration charge to institutes. However, in order to on board institutes rapidly, it has waived off the integration charge at the moment.
OnFees is currently focusing on Mumbai. “We are looking at [on boarding] 63 lakh students, more than 5,000 institutes of the serviceable available market and 3,00,000 transactions a year,” says Thakur.
Other startups offering similar services are Bangalore-based Instafeez, which provides online and offline payment solutions via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and Mumbai-based Airpay, which provides an omni-channel payments platform for large and medium enterprises. The startup also faces competition from wallets and established banks.
What has helped OnFees gain traction within a short span is the founders’ prior experience in the education domain. “With 10 years of experience dealing with education institutes and daily challenges that they face, we precisely knew the pain points,” Thakur says. And that experience has also helped them develop relationships with owners of the educational institutes, which came in handy for both direct sales and referrals.
The startup plans to expand to other cities by August. Thakur believes the firm’s loan facility is what makes it unique and will help it scale up in coming months.